(Washington, D.C.) –
than 34,000 Gulf War veterans told by Pentagon officials they were not
exposed to chemical agents after Operation Desert Storm are dying at a rate
nearly ten times that of veterans subsequently added to the Khamisiyah
chemical agent exposure model, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) learned
In 2000, the Department
of Defense (DoD) revised its estimate of the dispersion pattern of
chemical-agent fallout from the demolition of the Iraqi chemical weapons
depot at Khamisiyah in southern Iraq, which was destroyed by U.S. troops in
1991. Originally, DoD estimated that 99, 825 veterans had been exposed to
low levels of the nerve agent sarin after the demolition.
In 2000, DoD remodeled
the Khamisiyah plume exposure data. The new model excluded 34,418 veterans
who had originally been told they’d been in the Khamisiyah downwind hazard
zone. DoD then added 34,638 other Khamisiyah-area veterans to the new
exposure model, bringing the total number of exposed veterans to 100,045.
In late 2001, the
Veterans Benefits Administration’s Data Management Office (DMO) decided to
compare mortality figures between the veterans excluded from the new DoD
model and the veterans who were added in their place. The mortality numbers
released by the VA show that of the 34,418 who were excluded from DoD’s
remodeling of the Khamisiyah chemical weapons fallout plume, 1011 have died,
compared to only 105 of the 34, 638 veterans who were added to the revised
Khamisiyah plume model in 2000.
“This pattern in
entirely consistent with past practices concerning information relating to
toxic exposures in Gulf War veterans. We will request from Attorney General
Ashcroft the appointment of a special counsel to investigate this and other
matters related to the Pentagon’s conduct in dealing with Gulf War
Corey noted, since 1995,
the Pentagon’s Directorate for Deployment Health Support (formerly known as
the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses) has spent in
excess of $150 million on Gulf War-related research projects, none of which
have been scientifically peer-reviewed or otherwise subjected to genuinely
independent scrutiny or the standards of legitimate medical science.
“We cannot have the
agency that created the problem studying the problem,” Corey said. “An
independent institute within NIH that is dedicated to studying the full
range of health problems affecting veterans is the only way to guarantee
that we get good science and therefore good medical treatment for
“Our Gulf War veterans
deserve better. We will persist with our efforts to see they get the justice
and fair treatment. Corey reiterated VVA’s call for the creation of an
independent National Institute of Veterans Health within NIH to study
veteran’s medical problems.
Corey praised the VA’s
Data Management Office for studying the problem and publishing the results
in a timely manner.